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Initial unemployment insurance claims spiked again last week as more than 311,000 Michigan residents reported job losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s continued impact on the economy.
In total, more than 6.6 million Americans filed initial claims in the week ending Saturday, according to a weekly report from the U.S. Department of Labor. That’s in addition to 3.3 million already filed in the week ending March 21.
Statewide, almost 130,000 Michiganders filed initial claims in the week ending March 21, meaning that number more than doubled — reaching 311,086 claims — by the Saturday cutoff.
Michigan had the fourth-most claims in the nation last week, with only California (878,727), Pennsylvania (405,880) and New York (366,403) reporting more. The Labor Department noted Michigan had supplied comment on its spike in claims, attributing them to recent layoffs in accommodation and food services, health care, manufacturing, arts, entertainment and real estate rental and leasing industries.
The state is currently under a stay at home order and businesses considered non-essential are closed, hence the rise in layoffs. Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has issued an executive order expanding benefits for unemployed Michigan workers: It extends the unemployment application eligibility period from 14 to 28 days and allows state benefits to continue for 26 weeks, rather than 20.
This week, Whitmer told WWMT-TV her stay at home order — in place since March 24 — could be extended beyond its April 13 expiration.
National claims leapt from 211,000 in the week ending March 7 to just over 6.6. million at the latest update. That’s a 3,000% increase in just three weeks.
The Washington, D.C.-based Economic Policy Institute (EPI) released a response to the figures and noted what the labor market is experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic is more extreme than even the worst weeks of the 2007-09 Great Recession.
Last week, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which allocates $250 billion to the expansion of unemployment insurance and level of benefits. It also includes the creation of a Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) fund, aimed at workers ineligible for typical unemployment insurances.
But the EPI continues to project that even substantial stimulus packages won’t offset additional job losses. It estimates almost 20 million workers will be laid off or furloughed by July, with losses in each state.
Filing for benefits online
A fact sheet for claiming unemployment benefits in Michigan during the COVID-19 outbreak can be found here. UIA online resources include:
- File a claim for unemployment benefits
- Talk with a customer service agent (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
- Message a customer service agent outside of normal hours (weekdays after 5 p.m. and before 8 a.m. and weekends)
- Manage your account 24/7
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